Four years ago I began my challenge to run a marathon in my 40th year. With all my heart, I thought it would take me that long to reach my goal. (If you are not aware, I ran my first marathon in 2016 and have gone on to run another two.). In those early days of following the C25K app, I doubted whether I would ever cross that finish line. But here I am, at the top of the 40 mountain, with quite a number of running and personal accomplishments to look back on….
… nah I won’t bore you to tears with them, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned along the way.
Running doesn’t ever get easier – you get stronger. Such a cliche I know, but it is true. Running has not only given me the gap between my thighs I’ve always dreamed of, it has made me mentally stronger. I’ve learned perseverance. I know even when everything within me is wanting to give up, if I keep putting one foot in front of the other and smile, not only will I reach the end, I will have moments through those rough patches, where it seems easier for a while. I’ve applied this logic to quite a few life situations recently too!
Running is better with friends. It took me around 9 months to even believe running could be fun; and only then because I met a wonderful lady called Charlotte at Oxford Half. She chatted to me for the first 10 miles and I can honestly say, those were some of the easiest miles I’ve ever run. I’ve met some truly amazing people through running. My Run Mummy Run friends, the trotting trio, my Endure 24 team mates and this year my worldwide fearless running community 261 Fearless!
If you don’t have a goal, it is easy to give up. I like having races on the calendar or challenges to achieve to keep me motivated. It’s so easy for me to stop during a run if it is not on my “plan”. Like now for instance. I haven’t got a race until March and I completed 2018km on my birthday, so am in complete limbo. What should my plan be this week? Agghhhh!!
Running is an endurance sport, not matter how far you plan to run. If you are looking to bash out a sub 30 minute 5km in your second week of running and come out of it unscathed, you are likely to be disappointed. If you rush the build up, you will not learn important lessons, your body will not develop the right muscles and I can guarantee you will not enjoy a single step. Take your time. 80% of your runs should be at a pace you can hold a conversation at. This is another good reason to find a running buddy.
Strength training and stretching are essential. If you skip these, you might be OK, but if you are anything like me, you’ll end up on the injury bench and believe me, there is nothing more frustrating.
All of these lessons I now take in to life. I’ve definitely hit 40 a whole lot wiser and laid back than I used to be. If I’m happy, I run. If I’m sad I run. I run on holiday to check out places I know we wouldn’t have time to walk to. Running has enhanced my life and now I’m really happy to be using my passion to empower other women around the world to find theirs.